If you lead worship in a small group setting or at a church that doesn’t have a band, you have a unique opportunity as a worship leader.

You can literally go wherever you feel led at a moment’s notice. You can change tempo, key, song, or arrangement without having to communicate to a team. There’s a ton of freedom that comes with leading solo corporate worship.

But there are also some challenges.

Here are 7 tips for leading corporate worship without a band.

1. Know that it’s not second rate.

You don’t need a band or sound system to lead worship. In our video driven culture it’s so easy to watch LIVE worship video’s that look and sound amazing but leave you feeling that what you’re doing is second rate. Don’t discount the significance of what you’re doing. The stage, the band, the lights, or how many people are in the room doesn’t matter. Worship is so much deeper than that. Your worship, in the exact scenario and place where you are right now, is precious to him.

The stage, band, and lights don't matter. Worship is much deeper than that. Click To Tweet
2. Play and sing with dynamics.

This is important with or without a band, but when it’s just you on the keys or guitar, it’s even more important. Pay attention to your strumming pattern,  how hard you’re playing the keys, and how loud you’re singing. You don’t want to play and sing the intro, verse, and chorus of the song at the same intensity. Start out gently picking the guitar for the verse, then gently strum at the chorus. Make verse two a little more aggressive and then hit the second chorus full on strumming with some aggression. Have a song that’s more aggressive followed by a more gentle song to change up the dynamics.

3. Incorporate spontaneous times into your set.

This may depend on whether you’re leading a congregation where the goal is Godward-focused room engagement the whole time or a more laid-back soaking/prayer meeting. No matter the format, find those moments to veer off the beaten path of a song and be spontaneous. Sing a scripture, sing a spontaneous chorus, or just sing your heart to the Lord. These times can very life giving and can really keep the set feeling fresh, especially when you’re leading solo.

Incorporating different sounds, pads, and loops can really bring a freshness to your worship time. Click To Tweet
4. Use an iPad or Laptop

Incorporating different sounds, pads, ambiance, and even loops can really bring a freshness to your worship time. If you’re not able to get access to a laptop with the right software (which can be expensive), there are some really easy-to-use tablet apps that you can download cheaply, and even a few free options that offer some decent sounds. 7. Use Multitracks

5. Use Multitracks

Multitracks.com is a great resource that allows you to download all of the tracks from hundreds of worship songs. By all of the tracks, I mean all: bass, drums, electrics, strings, click, loops, you name it. You can then run them in the multitracks.com app or Ableton LIVE. It’s a learning curve to run this seamlessly while leading solo, but it is possible!

Leading worship without a band gives you some unique opportunities. Click To Tweet
6. Sing well known songs.

When you don’t have a band to lean on for arrangements, musical moments, or crescendos, it can be helpful to sing songs that people can hop in and sing with you right away. Congregation participation can really strengthen a solo corporate worship set.

7. Get sound help.

If you’re leading in a space that has a sound system, ask your sound guy to really help you make it sound full. You don’t want it to sound like a boom box at one end of the room. You still want it to be a dynamic even though you’re leading solo. Don’t blow people’s ears out, but run it louder than you would if you had a band. Also, having good EQ on your voice and instrument helps a lot!

No matter how large or small the venue in which you’re leading, it is an honorable thing to stand before God and help usher people into His presence.

Do you lead with a band? If not, what are the main challenges you’ve found?

I’m Justin Rizzo. I enable worship leaders who feel isolated, overworked, and unfocused to experience peace, confidence and create thriving worship communities.

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Light of the World (Acoustic)


  1. Awesome tips! I also find that it is helpful for me to have pads that I run off of my ipad. Gives that fuller sound.

  2. Rick Wezowicz

    I also find it great to use loops too; Ableton is amazing but a simple drum machine or finding something on YouTube can give a good solid foundation to build off of … an I also find loops to be great in personal worship times too (just remember if you have it on repeat a few hours might go by 🙂 … just warning you)

  3. Lexi Gamblin

    We just recently started using a sound system for our college campus ministry prayer meetings. But, we’ve always tried to have a worship pad playing in the background to help give it a fuller sound since it’s always just an acoustic and up to two vocals!

    I love the points you make that worship is so much deeper than always having a full band or having many people in attendance, but it’s a cherished time to truly meet and worship The Lord. Love it!

  4. This really speaks to a lot of us here at Eastern Gate. We have a lot of solo devotional sets, and a lot of nuances like dynamics gets lost.

  5. I appreciate that you included #2 “Play and Sing with Dynamics”, as it is important on so many levels. I too enjoy using loops or pads, but they can often hinder us from developing the skills needed for crafting engaging arrangements because they eliminate the need to play without dynamics and rhythmic interest. Learning how to incorporate different strumming patterns, and techniques like palm mutes or fingerpicking, not only help us keep the songs engaging; they also force us to think critically about what makes a song “build” or “breathe” — something our bands do for us all the time.

    A worship leader who learns these skills becomes a stronger team leader as well; because now they understand what it will take to get the arrangement where it needs to go, and they can coach new/young team members on how to play their part and how it fits into the whole.

    If we want to lead a team, we need to understand how each and every part of that team works. Not only will it enable us to communicate our ideas more clearly; it will cause us to grow in our appreciation for what the other members of our team contribute.

  6. Love this encouragement! What apps do you like from the iPad / or Macbook that are not super-expensive but have a good sound?

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